John Abercrombie

John Abercrombie

BandJazz

Whether performing straight-ahead, jazz fusion or avant-garde, John Abercrombie has always stretched musical boundaries with his unique sound and original compositional flair.

Biography

Born 1944 in Port Chester, NY, John Abercrombie grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut, and began playing the guitar at the age of fourteen. By the time he was out of high school, he was ready to veer away from imitative Chuck Berry licks in favor of learning to play the instrument more seriously. While enrolled at Boston's Berklee College of Music, Abercrombie worked with other students and played local clubs and bars. "it was pretty much your standard guitar-organ-drums set up."

An offer to tour with organist Johnny Hammond led to his going on the road for weeks at a time, playing such spots as Count Basie's Lounge and the Club Baron in Harlem. During that same period, Abercrombie met the Brecker Brothers who were in the process of forming Dreams. They invited Abercrombie to play with them, and he was heard on Dreams' debut album on Columbia.

In 1969, following graduation from Berklee, Abercrombie decided to head south in hopes of breaking into the New York music scene. In the next few years he developed into one of New York's most in-demand session musicians. He recorded with Gil Evans, Gato Barbieri, Barry Miles and many other artists, and also became a regular with Chico Hamilton's group.

It was as the guitarist in Billy Cobham's band that Abercrombie first began attracting widespread attention among the general public. This ensemble was something of a Dreams reunion since it also featured the Brecker Brothers. Abercrombie is heard on Cobham's Crosswinds, Total Eclipse and Shabazz albums. He found himself playing large concert halls and arenas, on bills with such top rock attractions as the Doobie Brothers. "One night we appeared at the Spectrum in Philadelphia and I thought, what am I doing here?"

A short time later, at the Montreux Festival, Abercrombie ran into Manfred Eicher who invited him to record an album for ECM, The result was Timeless, on which he was joined by Jan Hammer and Jack DeJohnette. It received virtually unanimous critical acclaim. Gateway was released in November 1975; it marked the first collaborative effort of Abercrombie with DeJohnette and bassist Dave Holland. A second Gateway recording was released in June 1978. In 1979, Abercrombie formed his own quartet, which included pianist Richie Beirach, bassist George Mraz and drummer Peter Donald. The group has made three recordings: Arcade, Abercrombie Quartet, and M.

Abercrombie has also recorded with many other ECM artists; the most significant collaborations must surely be with drummer Jack DeJohnette (Abercrombie appears on all of DeJohnotte's Directions and Now Directions albums) and with fellow guitarist Ralph Towner. Abercrombie and Towners Sargasso Sea was released in 1976 and Five Years Later in 1982.

Abercrombie's touring trio with Mark Johnson and Peter Erskine is heard on Current Events, Getting There (with frequent guest Michael Brecker) and John Abercrombie/Marc Johnson/Peter Erskine. Critic, Chuck Berg has described the group as "solidified ... to the point where its sixth-sense interactions create a singleness of vision associated only with Olympian ensembles such as the trios of pianists Bill Evans and Oscar Peterson". On Current Events, released in 1988, John used guitar synthesizer for the first time on record. John Abercrombie/Marc Johnson/Peter Erskine, released in 1989, was recorded in Boston on April 21, 1988 and documents this innovative trio, live. Repertoire from their four-year association is presented, and standards often linked with Bill Evans are given resplendent treatment. On the 1990 release Animato, John collaborates with composer/synthesist, Vince Mendoza and drummer John Christenesen, and presents eight original compositions.

John's affinity for jazz standards complements his role as an active clinician and teacher. While preparing for a Harvard lecture, where John surveyed the history of jazz guitar, he explained 'When I'm playing tunes like Autumn Leaves or Stella By Starlight, as much as I've played those tunes over the years, I still enjoy playing them. And because I know them so well, I'm very free with them. I'm just as free with them as when I'm playing no chords at all. That, to me, is free jazz,"

John Abercrombie possesses a unique voice as a jazz guitarist combining evolving technologies with a tradition well represented by jazz standards. Further insight from a 1988 Jazziz interview:

Carrying on the tradition of jazz guitar from Charlie Christian and Django Reinhardt to the present day is a very important aspect of my musicÂ… I'd like people to perceive me as having a direct connection to the history of jazz guitar, while expanding some musical boundaries which may not always involve the guitar itself.'

Since the 1992 recording While We're Young with organist Dan Wall and drummer Adam Nussbaum, John has continued to work with the trio releasing Speak of the Devil" in 1993 and Tactics in 1997, On his most recent album Open Land, the trio is joined by violinist Ma

Discography

1974 Timeless ECM
1974 Works ECM
1975 Gateway w/ Jack DeJohnette & Dave Holland ECM

1977 Gateway 2 ECM
1977 Characters ECM
1978 Arcade ECM
1979 Straight Flight JAM
1979 Abercrombie Quartet [live] ECM
1980 M ECM
1982 Solar w/ John Scofield Palo Alto
1984 Night ECM
1985 Current Events ECM
1987 Getting There ECM
1988 John Abercrombie Marc Johnson & Peter... [live] ECM

1989 Animato ECM
1989 Upon a Time an Album of Duets New Albion
1992 While We're Young ECM
1992 John Abercrombie/Dan Wall/Adam Nussbaum ECM
1992 November ECM
1993 Speak of the Devil ECM
1994 Nosmo King Steeple Chase
1994 Gateway: Homecoming ECM
1994 In the Moment (Gateway) ECM
1996 Tactics [live] ECM
1999 Open Land ECM
2000 The Hudson Project w/ Peter Erskine, John Pattatucci & Bob Mintzer
Stretch


Appears On ...

1968 Johnny "Hammond" Smith Nasty
1971 Friends w/Marc Cohen Oblivion
1971 Gato Barbieri Gato
1971 Gato Barbieri Under Fire
1971 Barry Miles White Heat
1973 Dave Liebman Lookout Farm
1973 Enrico Rava Quotation Marks
1974 Billy Cobham Shabazz
1974 Horace Arnold Tales of the Exonerated Flea
1974 Billy Cobham Crosswinds
1974 Billy Cobham Total Eclipse
1974 Jack DeJohnette Sorcery
1974 Gil Evans Gil Evans' Orchestra Plays the...
1974 Dave Liebman Drum Ode
1974 Clive Stevens Atmospheres
1974 Clive Stevens Voyage to Uranus
1975 Jack DeJohnette Cosmic Chicken
1975 Jack DeJohnette Works
1975 Charles Earland Odyssey
1975 David Liebman Sweet Hands
1975 Enrico Rava Pilgrim and the Stars
1975 Michal Urbaniak Fusion III
1975 Collin Walcott Cloud Dance
1975 Collin Walcott Works
1976 Enrico Rava Pilgrim and the Stars
1976 Jack DeJohnette Directions
1976 Ralph Towner Sargasso Sea
1976 Jack DeJohnette's... Untitled
1976 Jack DeJohnette Pictures
1976 Barre Phillips Mountainscapes
1976 Enrico Rava Plot
1976 Ralph Towner Sargasso Sea
1977 Jack DeJohnette's... New Rags
1977 Johnny "Hammond" Smith Storm Warning
1977 Collin Walcott with Don... Grazing Dreams
1978 Jack DeJohnette New Directions
1978 Clint Houston Watership Down
1978 Terry Plumeri Ongoing
1979 Urszula Dudziak Future Talk
1979 Jack DeJohnette New Directions in Europe
1979 Bobby Hutcherson Un Poco Loco
1979 George Mraz With John... Direct Flight
1979 Mike Nock Climbing (check)
1980 McCoy Tyner Four Times Four
1980 McCoy Tyner Quartet 4 X 4
1981 Ralph Towner Five Years Later
1982 Goerge Marsh Drum Strum 1750
1984 Andy LaVerne Liquid Silver
1984 Don Thompson Quartet Beautiful Friendship
1986 Don Tompson Witchcraft
1986 Peter Erskine Transition
1987 Richie Beirach with John... Emerald City
1987 Tom Harrell Visions
1987 Jeff Palmer/David Liebman...Abracadabra
1987 Michel Petrucciani Michel Plays Petrucciani
1988 Paul Bley Live at Sweet Basil
1988 Peter Erskine Motion Poet
1988 Henry Kaiser Re-Marrying for Money
1988 Henri Texier Colonel Skopje
1989 Andy LaVerne & John... Natural Living
1989 John D'earth One Bright Glance
1989 Danny Gottlieb Whirlwind
1990 Niels Lan Doky Friendship
1990 Danny Gottlieb Brooklyn Blues
1990 Jim Hall & Friends Live at Town Hall Vol. 2
1990 Joe Lovano Landmarks
1990 Charles Mingus Epitaph
1990 Bob Mintzer Hymn
1991 Bob Brookmeyer Electricity
1991 Harvie Swartz Arrival
1991 Gust William Tsilis... Heritage
1992 Niels Lan Doky The Toronto Concert [live]
1992 Dreams Dreams
1992 Bruce Gertz Third Eye
1992 Jeff Palmer Ease on
1992 Johnny "Hammond" Smith Forever Taurus
1992 Hans Ulrik Day After Day
1993 Vassar Clements Once in a While
1993 Tim Hagans No Words
1993 Lonnie Smith/John... Afro Blue
1994 Bruce Ditmas What If
1994 Bruce Gertz 5et Discovery Zone
1994 Jeff Palmer Shades of the Pine
1994 Jeff Palmer Island Universe
1994 Lonnie Smith Foxy Lady: A Tribute to Hendrix
1995 Andy Laverne Now It Can Be Played
1995 Andy Laverne Farewell
1995 Les Arbuckle Bush Crew
1995 Base Line Why Really
1995 Bruce Gertz Blueprint
1995 Tom Harrell Sail Away [Musidisc]
1995 Jacek Kochan Grey Angel
1995 Lonnie Smith Trio Purple Haze: A Tribute to Jimi...
1996 Baseline Standards
1996 Marc Copland Second Look
1996 Sigi Finkel Sweet Sue
1996 Gateway In the Moment
1996 Andy LaVerne Where We Were
1996 Little Magic In A Noisy... Little Magic in a Noisy World
1997 Baseline Returns
1998 Franco Ambrosetti Light Breeze
1998 Ethel Ennis If Women Ruled the World
1998 Mark Soskin Five Lands (Cinqueterre)
1999 Gato Barbieri Best of the Early Years
1999 Bruce Gertz Red Handed
1999 Charles Lloyd Voice in the Night
1999 Vince Mendoza & London...Epiphany
1999 Lars Moller Group Colours
1999 Brooke